There are over 200 references to aromatics, incense, and ointments throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Aromatics, such as frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, cinnamon, cassia, rosemary, hyssop, and spikenard, were used for anointing and healing the sick.
Just exactly what are essential oils? Essential oils are aromatic volatile liquids distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds. They are chemically very complex, consisting of hundreds of different chemical compounds. Moreover, they are highly concentrated and far more potent than dried herbs. The distillation process is what makes essential oils so concentrated. It often requires an entire plant or more to produce a single drop of distilled essential oil.
Understanding a little about the chemistry of essential oils can help us have a deeper understanding of benefits of essential oils, and why God chose essential oils to be used in the sanctuary service and even why God told Israel to use a hyssop branch to put the blood on the doorpost at the Passover in Egypt. As always, the more you research something in the Bible, the more amazing you find that God is.
There are hundreds of chemical components in essential oils. For the purpose of this writing, we will look at three and explore their significance spiritually.
Phenols: have the ability to clean the cell’s receptor sites. Phenols are the “fighters and warriors.” They clear out unwelcome guests that don’t belong…viruses, bacteria, parasites, petrochemicals, heavy metals, pharmaceutical drugs, and other aliens.
Monoterpenes: restore or awaken the correct information in the cell’s memory. Monoterpenes are coordinators, quenchers, unifiers, and organizers.
Sesquiterpenes clean out cellular information that is no longer useful.
Quoting David Stewart, Ph.D., D.N.M., The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple…God’s Love Manifest in Molecules:
In one’s individual search for God, there are three stages along the way:
1. There is the purgative stage where one is cleansed in preparation for spiritual endeavor. This is analogous to the function of the phenols (or ketones/alcohols) that cleanse receptor sites and prepare us for the release of our emotional and spiritual blockages.
2. There is an illuminative stage where the darkness is dispelled and cleared from our consciousness. This is analogous to the function of the sesquiterpenes that erase erroneous data in our cells and eradicate the dark emotions and spiritual deficiencies that block our vision of God and our capability of manifesting His gifts.
3. Then there is the unitive stage where we are ready and able to unite and commune directly with God. This is analogous to the function of the monoterpenes that assist in re-establishing the divine image of God that was implaced within us at our creation—the manifestation of which is our purpose in being.
The anointing and sacred oils that God directed the Children of Israel to make and use are extremely high in the above chemical constituents. This is not coincidental. Revelation 8:3: "...and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it WITH the prayer of all saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne. This is NOT the prayers of the saints. It is offered WITH the prayers, You have to put this scripture together with Revelation 5:8 which says the "odours" are the prayers of the saints. This means the whole process of what is being done with the incense. The incense that was sprinkled on the altar of incense represents the righteousness of Christ. When the priest sprinkled it on the coals, the incense made a fragrant cloud through which the priest walked as he entered the most holy place symbolizing the putting on of Christ's righteousness. The incense recipe contained four oils that when studied you see the symbolism of the attributes of Christ's ministry. It was against the law for people to make their own incense. There is no work of our own that takes the place of the work of Christ for us.
Not only do the essential oils in the anointing and sacred oil blends have physically healing properties, they have the ability to cleanse and restore correct programming at the cellular level. So, when the priest ran among the Israelites and stopped a plague, God was allowing man to harness the healing properties available in that which He has created. He was not only creating a physical healing, He was creating an emotional and spiritual healing as well.
Here is another scripture that takes on new meaning when you understand a little about the chemistry of essential oils. Again, quoting from Dr. Stewart: In Psalm 51, King David is repenting to God for committing adultery (with Bathsheba) and committing murder (by arranging for the death of her husband, Uriah). Tendencies to commit compulsions and engage in wrongful actions are imbedded in the DNA of our cells. David did not want to be driven to commit such heinous acts ever again and in his begging for God’s mercy, he applied the oil of hyssop to his body and inhaled its vapors with these words: “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow…Blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ps. 51:7, 9-10. “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean.” implies a cleansing of the receptor sites (P). “Blot out all my iniquities.” suggests that unwanted tendencies be deleted from the DNA (S). “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.” suggests the reprogramming and restoration of God’s perfect image (M).
Here is another Scripture that takes on new meaning when you understand a little essential oil chemistry. Numbers 5 – The trial of jealousy process – verse 15: Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an epah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, NOR PUT FRANKINCENSE thereon: for it is an offering of jealousy, and offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
Frankincense is 64 – 90% monoterpenes…remember, monoterpenes awaken the correct information in the cell’s memory. Frankincense would have interfered with “bringing iniquity to remembrance.”
In Exodus 31, Moses is given the recipe for two oil blends. One was an anointing oil. One was a sacred oil, "sweet incense for holy place." Ex. 31:11 These oils also contain monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and phenols along with other God-created chemicals. The anointing oil contained: myrrh, cinnamon, cassia, calamus and olive oil. The sacred oil contained stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense. This blend also contains the monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and phenols. Frankincense has the ability to stimulate limbic brain, and helps overcome stress and despair.
Doesn't it just make you want to celebrate God? He, Himself, uses what He has created to spiritually symbolize Christ's work in our lives. But, He doesn't just leave us with a spiritual awareness of this truth. He gives us essential oils that actually work at the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels...helping Him accomplish that which is needful for us...conviction, conversion, cleansing, commission! I just have to say, Praise God!
In Mathew 26, we have the story of Mary who used a very expensive ointment, Spikenard essential oil, and anointed Jesus with it. Jesus commended Mary for her work and said, “For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.” (verse 12). When you understand some essential oil chemistry, you have a clearer meaning of what Jesus is saying. He was being anointed in the fullest sense to become the sanctuary and the fulfillment of the first phase of His work. These oils would have ministered to Jesus in just the same way that they minister to us today….physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
May you experience the blessings and benefits of essential oils as you learn to use them in your daily life, and may this information be an anointing for your spiritual eyesight.